Great classic by Icelandic poet/chieftain chronicles the reigns of 16 high kings descended from the warrior-wizard god Odin. Major section on 15-year reign of Olav II Haraldson, patron saint of Norway. Based on earlier histories, oral traditions, plus new material by author, all presented with intelligence, warmth and objectivity. Over 130 illustrations and 5 maps.
This compelling Icelandic history describes the life of King Harald Hardradi, from his battles across Europe and Russia to his final assault on England in 1066, less than three weeks before the invasion of William the Conqueror. It was a battle that led to his death and marked the end of an era in which Europe had been dominated by the threat of Scandinavian forces. Despite England's triumph, it also played a crucial part in fatally weakening the English army immediately prior to the Norman Conquest, changing the course of history. Taken from the Heimskringla - Snorri Sturluson's complete account of Norway from prehistoric times to 1177 - this is a brilliantly human depiction of the turbulent life and savage death of the last great Norse warrior-king.
Gods and giants bestride these ancient tales, in which warrior queens and noble heroes battle with elves, dwarves, and fearsome monsters. Spanning the dawn of the world's creation to its fiery destruction, these gripping Norse legends chronicle the triumphs and tragedies of a lost era. Resounding with a poetic instinct for the picturesque, the dramatic, and the human, they form vivid portraits of the characters' personalities. They also depict the comic and disastrous results of ambition, passion, and destiny. The wellspring of modern knowledge of Norse mythology, these sagas preserved the Vikings' narrative style from an invading European influence. Iceland's great literary genius, Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241), combined oral traditions, genealogical records, and old songs to immortalize his country's glorious past. Edda means "poetic art," and Sturluson's guidebook for Icelandic poets has been a timeless inspiration for generations of writers around the world, including Wagner, Borges, and Tolkien.
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